Toyota withdraws from AA Kyalami

Johannesburg, Saturday - A controversial decision by Toyota dominated proceedings at the Autumn National Race Day at AA Kyalami today. Toyota withdrew the factory Team Castrol Toyota Corollas of works drivers Charl Wilken and Mark Cronje from ...

Johannesburg, Saturday - A controversial decision by Toyota dominated proceedings at the Autumn National Race Day at AA Kyalami today.

Toyota withdrew the factory Team Castrol Toyota Corollas of works drivers Charl Wilken and Mark Cronje from round two of the Midas Production Car Championship, setting up a confrontation with the Midas Production Car Association and the Motorsport SA Saloon Car Commission. The Toyota decision followed a clash with race officials and the Midas Association over `controlled' brake pads to be used in the series.

"We have appealed a decision by the stewards of the meeting to force us to use brake pads supplied by the Midas Production Car Association," said Toyota Motorsport manager Whammy Haddad. "We have also appealed a decision taken by the Clerk of the Course after qualifying on Friday, to force the two Team Castrol Toyota entries to start from the back of the Class B grid because we were not using brake pads supplied by the Midas Production Car Association."

Wilken was the fastest of the Class B qualifiers, and was fourth fastest overall, while Cronje qualified third in Class B and eighth overall. After behind the scenes wrangling, the two Toyotas were withdrawn minutes before the start of the first Midas heat.

"We could have raced if we used the `controlled' brake pads, but we are not prepared to compromise on the safety of our drivers and other competitors, and a decision has been taken to withdraw from today's round of the championship, " Haddad said. "The `controlled' brake pads have not been tested to our satisfaction and, until this has been done, we will not utilise the prescribed components."

Francois Loubser, Toyota SA Director of Marketing and Communications, said the decision was "unfortunate." It was, however, the culmination of simmering dissatisfaction with the way in which the Midas Production Car Championship was being administered.

"Toyota SA and Toyota Motorsport have been forced into finally making a stand, "Mr Loubser said. "We have appealed the decisions by the Clerk of the Course and the stewards of the meeting, and will be seeking urgent meetings with the Midas Production Car Association and the Motorsport SA Saloon Car Commission to try and sort out a situation that is clearly not healthy for motorsport in South Africa."

-AAK

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